Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Homeless Kit/Blessing Bags - Family Service Project

A couple weeks ago I was studying Matthew 15 & 16 in my Bible Study and was struck by how Jesus "had compassion on the crowd." How he met their physical needs (the feeding of the 5,000 and the 4,000) quietly and unelaborately, without recognition.  Jesus was not wealthy. Now, I cannot perform miracles of course, but I felt inspired to seek out needs around me and do what I CAN do to meet those needs.

That night I made a homeless kit inspired by something I saw on Pinterest awhile back: a gallon Ziploc baggie, a few travel size toiletries from my stash, a couple protein bars, a bottle of Purell and package of wet wipes, and a $5 bill.  I prayed God would show me the needs of others and give me compassion and ability to meet those needs.

Is there any surprise the VERY NEXT MORNING, on my way home from the Children's Hospital in Minneapolis, there was a woman holding a sign on the corner, before I got on the highway.  My husband says there is always at least one person there, but I had never really noticed.  I was grateful it was a woman, as I was a bit nervous about rolling down my window as a mom in a minivan with little kids.

It was simple, quiet, unelaborate, without praise, and did not require wealth.  15 seconds it took to roll down my window and hand her a bag from just behind the passenger seat. Then on with our day.

The next day I saw a video going around Facebook about making homeless kits out of thrift store backpacks. They were able to fit much more in a backpack - without really raising the cost much at all.  I didn't find any backpacks at Savers, but I found a bag that would work.  Since I love to coupon it was easy to pick up some items for the bag that were very inexpensive out of pocket costs to me.

We made 2 more kits, so for inspiration, here's what was included in ours:
-Several granola and protein bars
-Dove chocolates
-wet wipes
-hand sanitizer
-travel size and samples of shampoos and conditioners
-full size deodorant (men's b/c even women can agree those smell great)
-body wash and bar soap
-new socks
-large wool gloves (thrift store) (it is darned cold here in the Arctic, I mean, Minnesota)
-reusable water bottle with a Bible verse on it (thrift store)
-box of cookies and several Belvita bars
-jar of Peanut Butter and plastic fork, knife, and spoon
-full size toothpaste

What's great is that my kids were able to help make these and it opened us up to a conversation about homelessness and helping others!

What would you add? Have you tried this?

In April 2015 we were out of bags, we had been for awhile, and were able to gather enough materials to create 5 more bags.  This isn't a lot, I wish it were more.  However I don't want the food going bad so I made these 5 and am stockpiling the nonperishable items for later.

A birds-eye view of the items included in this                              Food items - candy, granola bars, 
round of Blessing Bags.                                                                protein bars, Ramen noodles, trail                                                                                                              mix, beef jerky, chewable vitamins

 Toiletries -- shampoo (2-3 per bag), conditioner (1 per bag),  razors, bar soap (2 per bag), body soap, lotion, full size deodorant, sunscreen, body wet wipes, mouthwash, toothbrushes (3 per bag), toothpaste (1 full and 1 travel per bag), roll TP, and nice reusable water bottles

I stuffed (and I mean STUFFED) the items into cheap reusable bags (shopping bag or drawstring backpack style - I collect these from various sources and can buy cheap at thrift stores).  The kids draw a small photo and say "We are praying for you today. God cares for you."